It looks like Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee for president. We should know a lot about him, since he has held political office longer than two-thirds of America’s people have lived. We may think we know Joe, but let’s take a close look at who this man was and is.
Vice President Biden was born on November 20, 1942. He grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the son of Joseph Biden, Sr., a used car salesman, and Catherine Eugenia “Jean” Biden. In 1955, his family moved to Mayfield, Delaware, a blue-collar community where almost everyone worked for DuPont chemical company. As a teenager, he work to help pay his tuition to the prestigious Archmere Academy. He became a standout football player described by his coach as one of the best pass receivers of his 16 year coaching career.
He studied history and political science while playing football for the University of Delaware Blue Hens. He admits he was more interested in girls and partying than academics and barely qualified for law school. The inauguration of President Kennedy inspired him enter Syracuse University Law School in 1965. The next year, he married Niellia Hunter with whom he says he fell in love at first sight. A mediocre law student, he flunked one of his first classes for not citing a reference on an assignment. He managed to graduate and pass the bar exam, then moved to Wilmington, Delaware to practice law.
He immediately became an active member of the Democratic Party and was elected in 1970 to the New Castle County Council. From there, his political life would continue unbroken to this day. In 1972, at just 29 years of age, he ran a long-shot race for the U.S. Senate to unseat a popular Republican incumbent, J. Caleb Boggs. His narrow victory made him the fifth youngest senator in the nation’s history. That year, just a week before Christmas, his wife and daughter, Naomi, were killed in a terrible car accident while Christmas shopping. His two sons, Beau and Hunter, were severely injured. Devastated to the point of considering suicide, Joe desired to withdraw from the Senate seat, but his family and friends convinced him to honor his commitment to the voters. Considering his family situation, he decided to commute to Washington from Wilmington by train. This commute continued for his 36 straight years in the senate.
Biden married his second wife, Jill Jacobs, in 1977, and they had a daughter, Ashley, born in 1981. Jill Biden has a PhD in education. In 2015, Joe Biden suffered another personal loss when his son, Beau, died at age 46 after battling brain cancer.
In 1987, Joe decided to run for president, but dropped out of the primary after reports that he plagiarized part of a speech. He had been suffering headaches during the campaign, and doctors diagnosed two life-threatening brain aneurysms requiring surgery. After seven months of recovery, he resumed his senate obligations.
Twenty years later, the senator once again ran for the presidency. However, his 35 years in the senate failed to create enough support to overcome the field dominated by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. He dropped out after receiving less than 1% of the Iowa caucuses votes. A few months later, the victorious Obama selected Biden for his running mate. His job was to help the low-experienced Obama convince the blue collar workers he could recover the sluggish economy. The duo prevailed in victory.
Vice President Biden’s main wheel house was behind-the-scenes advisor to the president in foreign affairs and financial policy. He is credited in hammering out negotiations with Russia and tax increases with the Congress. He was also a leading figure in the national gun control debate.
His climb to the top of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race has been fraught with many issues. His alleged Ukraine scandal to enrich his son, Hunter, plus Hunter’s other misdeeds are constant drags on his campaign. His age at inauguration, if elected, would be 78, eight years older than the next oldest newly elected president in our history…Donald Trump. Biden would be 82 at the end of his first term, older than 98% of all Americans. A lot of speculation is stirring about his health, particularly his mental acuity at that age. Many go so far as questioning his mental state, even suggesting he has the onset of dementia or alzheimer’s. These assessments are mostly based on his exponential increase in verbal gaffes.
Although Joe has been gaffe-prone most of his life, he seems to be stockpiling the incidents of late. Here are just a few examples from his present campaign rhetoric:
- Calling his opponent, Julian Castro, “Cisneros”
- “You can’t, in fact, preach to the choir if you can’t sing.”
- “I’m going to make sure that we rejoin the Paris Peace Accord on day one.” (The Paris Peace Accord was the treaty to end the Vietnam War)
- Saying he went to college at Delaware State (a historically black college) instead of University of Delaware
- Claimed that over 40 students were shot at Kent State in 1970 (actually only four)
- Confusing Iraq and Syria
- “We have to start rewarding work, not just wealth. I would eliminate the capital gains tax.”
- “Why in God’s name should someone who’s clipping coupons in the stock market pay a lower tax rate than someone who is a school teacher and a firefighter.”
- Claimed his policy would put more than 720 million American women to work
- “My health plan is not quality and will increase premiums.”
- “Who is Boris Johnson?”
- Told a moving story about pinning a Silver Star on an elderly Navy captain in Afghanistan. When the statement was challenged as being totally false, he said the central point of the story was correct.
- “We choose truth over facts.”
- “Poor kids are just as bright as white kids.”
- Referring to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, he said he remembered when the Parkland kids came to see him in Washington when he was vice president. (The Parkland shootings were in 2018, over a year after Trump took office.)
- “What’s not to like about Vermont?” (He was in New Hampshire.)
- “It’s a three-letter word: jobs.”
- Recently declared, “I’m running for U.S. Senate!”
Many political pundits say the Democrats are going to Biden because he is the moderate choice. I suppose he is moderate compared to Bernie, but, make no mistake, he has spent his career pursuing liberal policies. He is far left of center. Joe Biden has had many personal and political challenges in his life and has shown amazing resilience. The question is, do we want a life-long, very old liberal politician who has never known anything but beltway politics since law school. He is ensconced in the swamp and may have serious mental issues. America has a crucial decision to make.